Hawkeye Halfway Point

Story by Derek Pech

Iowa running back Ivory Kelly-Martin (21) celebrates with teammates after catching a 3-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 45-16. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Des Moines – Well Hawkeye fans the bye week is officially behind us, the first half of the season is over, and the second half of the season looms large. The Iowa State Cyclones have dominated the football conversation in the state of Iowa over the past week or two. You can be sure their fans, coaches, and players are loving every second of it too. They deserve it. It’s long overdue. The annoyance we’ve felt these past couple of weeks listening to all the non-stop talk about Cyclone football is the same annoyance they’ve felt for the past couple decades listening to people talk about Hawkeye football.

We may want to get used to this because I’m a firm believer that Matt Campbell is resurrecting the Cyclone football program. Or maybe it’s better to say he’s inventing it because it hasn’t ever had much life, but regardless this is a great thing for football in the state of Iowa. Make no mistake it is a great thing for the Hawkeyes as well. A good Iowa State football program is better for Iowa. They need help with their strength of schedule. For example, remember Iowa beat this Iowa State football team? That’s right. The Hawks beat the same Cyclone team that just beat Oklahoma. That’s a damn good thing for Iowa’s team, and it’s a great example of what a game between two good Iowa teams (the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes) can mean to each of them in the future.

Bring. It. On. The Cy-Hawk rivalry is alive and well, and a daunting match-up between two Top 25 in-state programs each year would be bad ass. I’m not saying Iowa State is there yet, but I think it’s possible.

Anyways, that’s enough about the Cyclones. We’ve heard enough about them lately right? Let’s switch gears and take a look at where the Hawkeyes stand halfway through their season.

Hawk Talk

Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell, center, stands with teammates on the field before an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Hawks are 4-2 at the halfway point. They have a nice come from behind win against a pretty good Iowa State team on their resume and three more wins against opponents that they needed to beat. To their credit they took care of business.

They also have a pair of excruciating losses. One last second loss to #2 Penn State in a game that they put themselves in position to win, and an ugly loss to what appears to be a solid Michigan State team. They played awful against the Spartans. There’s no other way to put it. Simply awful.

It’s safe the say the Iowa State win was the highlight of the first half of the season, and the Michigan State game was the floor.

Which leaves us wondering what to expect from the Hawkeyes in the second half of the season?

This is college football so anything can happen. Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll at least give you my opinion…

It’s tough to put a finger on this Hawkeye squad. They’ve looked good on both sides of the ball and they’ve looked downright awful on both sides of the ball at times. They need to figure out a way to be consistent. Particularly in the first half of games. That’s when they’ve been at their worst. Especially on the offensive side of the ball. Stanley and company has had trouble finding ways to move the ball early on in games and it has hurt them. They’ve actually played really good football in the 4th quarter, but for whatever reason they can’t get out of their own way in the first half. That is something they’ll need to address as the hardest part of their schedule is in front of them.

Speaking of schedule… Let’s take a look at what’s left: 

Saturday 10/21 11:00 am @ Northwestern 

Saturday 10/28 5:30 pm vs Minnesota 

Saturday 11/4 TBD vs Ohio State

Saturday 11/9 TBD @ Wisconsin

Saturday 11/18 TBD vs Purdue

Friday 11/24 3:00 pm vs Nebraska

This should be fun right? This is what being a college football fan is all about. Obviously I’m a huge Hawkeye fan, and I think this schedule sets up nicely for them to make a run (if they have it in them).

The ultimate question here is what makes this a successful season?

The answer to that question depends on who you’re asking, but in my opinion Iowa needs to finish no less than 8-4. This team SHOULD get wins against Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, and Nebraska. That’s them going out and taking care of business. Anything less than that would be a disappointment because I believe this Hawkeye team is better than those four teams.

Losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin are expected. I don’t see any way Iowa beats Ohio State, but then again I didn’t expect them to compete the way they did against Penn State. If they have another performance like that in them then anything is possible, but I think that’s a long shot.

However, I will say that I believe the Hawks have a legitimate shot at beating Wisconsin simply because they match up well with them. Wisconsin’s QB, Alex Hornibrook, does not scare me. He’s the definition of a game manager, and if the Hawkeyes can keep this one close I think they can force Hornibrook into making mistakes. The key will be shutting down the Badgers running game, and on the flip side actually making plays on offense. That’s always a tall task against a dominant Badger defense. Especially when the Hawks have a young QB in Nate Stanley. I think the Hawkeyes could pull off the upset here, and possibly sneak to 9 wins, but it would take one hell of a performance.

Just an FYI… even if the Hawkeyes beat the Badgers they would be a long shot to win the Big Ten West because Wisconsin’s schedule is so damn easy. Assuming Iowa loses to Ohio State they would still have three conference losses thanks to Michigan State and Penn State. At worst, in my opinion, Wisconsin is looking at two conference losses (Iowa and Michigan). The pesky Badgers simply have no one else who can challenge them on their schedule. Iowa’s only legit chance at winning the West would be shocking the college football world by beating both Ohio State and Wisconsin. Boy that would be something…

My prediction?

Hawkeyes finish the season with an 8-4 record, and end up playing in a respectable bowl game. Getting a bowl win to cap off the season would be a step in the right direction heading into next year. Kirk and company have struggled to win bowl games in recent years so the fan base is a little restless on that front. No one can blame them. When fans are spending hard earned money to come watch your team play at some point you have to deliver a win right?

Regardless what happens it should be a fun ride. I can’t wait for the second half of the season.

Josey “The Outlaw” Jewell is a goddamn hero by the way. It probably isn’t appropriate to write an article about Iowa without mentioning that man. I’m sure going to miss seeing him on the field for the Hawks. He’s become one of my All-Time favorite Hawkeyes. Let’s hope this team sends him out the way he deserves!

Let’s Go Hawks! 

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